WASHINGTON -- Even though catcher Wilson Ramos is out for the entirety of the postseason, the Nationals aren't shaking in their boots as they start the National League Division Series against the Dodgers on Friday (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1) at Nationals Park. In fact, they are comfortable with rookie Pedro Severino and veteran Jose Lobaton behind the plate. Both players are solid game callers who can do damage with the bat when they get a chance. Severino will start the opener.
Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee on Sept. 26. He was their second-best hitter behind Daniel Murphy, and as manager Dusty Baker put it, Ramos was deadly when it came to runners in scoring position with two outs.
"You don't want to lose a guy like Willie," Murphy said. "His season was unbelievable. It was fun to watch from start to finish. But Jose is awesome. [Severino] has come up and played really well. We all can understand he can throw, but I've been impressed with his pitch framing and pitch calling. He has done a lot of work to get on the same page as the pitchers. I think we are in a good position with both those guys."
Don't think that Lobaton and Severino are going into the postseason cold. Remember, Lobaton has experience when the leaves turn brown. It was his walk-off home run for the Rays that defeated the Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2013 American League Division Series.
"That's the most exciting, just the way it ended," Lobaton said. "The feeling running the bases knowing you did it that day. It's something I always have on my mind. Every time I go to the batter's box, I think about that situation. I try to hit the ball hard. That's the best moment in my life."
Severino doesn't have postseason experience. Heck, he has only played in 18 big league games. But that didn't stop Baker from naming him the starting catcher for Game 1.
One reason Severino is getting the start is that Lobaton is banged up. He has been dealing with ankle issues lately. Severino is also a talented catcher who plays like a 15-year veteran. He could also be named the "Energizer Bunny." He goes all out when he is on the diamond.
Even though Severino is a rookie, Game 1 starter Max Scherzer doesn't mind throwing to his young receiver.
"Severino is completely different," Scherzer said. "First off, he's way more mature and understands the game way further than any rookie catcher I've been around. He gets it. He really understands the game and he does a great job, in between my starts, of understanding everything that goes into calling the game and understanding what numbers I'm looking at, understanding my sequences, understanding the signs that are going down so that when he does."
Talk to Severino and there isn't any sign of being nervous.
"It's the playoffs, but it's the same. It's baseball," Severino said. "You just have more fans. We have to do the same thing that we did during the regular season."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.